After a miserable slump that saw the company oust its third CEO in six years, Hewlett-Packard is looking to bounce back.
HP reports its fiscal fourth quarter results after markets close Monday. It will be the company’s first earnings call with newly appointed CEO Meg Whitman running the show. Ms. Whitman was named to the top position after the company fired Léo Apotheker in September. Investors, who pushed HP’s stock price upwards following the news of Ms. Whitman’s hiring, will be looking for any signs as to whether she is starting to deliver results.
Mr. Apotheker had been on the job less than a year at the time of his exit, but had already taken several major and controversial steps to overhaul the company. He spent $10-billion (U.S.) to buy a business-software firm called Autonomy, and he planned to spin off HP’s personal computing division. He also killed off HP’s new tablet computer just as it was hitting store shelves, making for an embarrassing turnaround.
But by all accounts, Ms. Whitman doesn’t seem to have any plans to stray from the course set by Mr. Apotheker. In a conference call in September, Ray Lane, the executive chairman of HP’s board of directors, made it clear that Mr. Apotheker was fired because of botched execution, rather than a faulty game-plan.
However, Ms. Whitman has veered from the previous strategy. She has already announced HP will keep its PC division, backtracking on what was perhaps Mr. Apotheker’s most controversial move. Many analysts had previously cautioned that the uncertainty around the PC division’s future, as well as the extent to which HP would ultimately move away from the hardware business, could cause many big corporate clients to look elsewhere for their IT purchases.
As such, Ms. Whitman’s first appearance on an HP earnings call may contain very few surprises, as the new CEO looks to calm investors and customers at the end of an otherwise dismal year. Even though the company’s shares have jumped since Ms. Whitman’s hiring, and now hover around $28, they are nowhere near HP’s 52-week high of $49.39.
Analysts expect HP to post earnings per share of about $1.15, and revenues of $32.2-billion.